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(1974, d. John Cassavetes)
Starring Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk
Nick Longhetti (Peter Falk) is a construction crew chief trying to keep his work and family life together. His beautiful wife, Mabel (Gena Rowlands) is eccentric and seems to be slowly disintegrating, unable to cope with her role of wife and mother. Though Nick and Mabel are deeply in love, neither are able to communicate or meet the needs of the other. After a series of disturbing events, friends and family begin to question Mabel’s mental health. Nick’s mother pressures him to have Mabel committed to an institution and he reluctantly agrees. The resulting domestic turmoil tears the couple and their family apart.
Long takes and close-ups heighten the emotional impact of Mabel’s increasingly bizarre behavior and its effect on her marriage and family. Gena Rowlands' masterful performance remains one of the most powerful ever filmed. A key movie of the early 1970s, the film stands today as one of the foremost examples of Cassavetes’ unsparing realism. The seeds of today’s family dramas, and indeed, of the entire contemporary independent film movement, can be found here and in Cassavetes’ other works.